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WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Help for Workaholics: 3 Things You Must Do Today

First things first: Forget the whole idea of work/life balance. It's not practical. Instead, you need to start thinking in terms of boundaries.
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As a business owner, you always have more work to do. That whole finding "balance" idea? Well, it isn't all that practical--or possible.

Ed Batista, an executive coach and instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, is a self-proclaimed workaholic, so he knows the innate struggles. "The concept of life/work balance isn't that helpful for us," Batista writes in the Harvard Business Review. "[As workaholics,] we need to protect ourselves primarily from our own internal drive."

One way of protecting yourself from burning out is to substitute "boundaries" for "balance," he says. "While balance requires an unsteady equilibrium among the various demands on our time and energy, boundaries offer a sustainable means of keeping things in their proper place," he writes.

Below, read three boundaries Batista says will help workaholics stay sane and healthy.

Establish temporal boundaries.

The idea here is to reserve certain times exclusively for family, friends, exercise, and other non-work activites. Batista says the difference between these boundaries and balance is that the amount of undisturbed time set aside for non-work related activities may vary, but it has to remain completely undisrupted by work. "What matters is that we create and maintain a functional boundary around that time," he writes.

Maintain physical boundaries.

You need to create physical boundaries between you and your work. "Physical boundaries ensure that we get out of our offices and workplaces at regular intervals and create actual distance between us and our work," he writes, explaining this includes not looking at email, your laptop, smartphone, or papers when you're in certain spaces. "Again, the question is not about balancing the two worlds, but establishing boundaries to create the needed separation."

Create cognitive boundaries.

Learning to control where your attention wanders is what Batista calls a "cognitive boundary." "Cognitive boundaries help us resist the temptation to think about work and focus our attention on the people or activity at hand," he writes. "Recognizing when our attention is being held hostage by work and turning it elsewhere requires persistent, dedicated effort, but it yields substantial rewards, in part because our focused attention is one of our greatest resources." Batista recommends practicing meditation, which is the ability to control and direct your attention.

Last updated: Dec 9, 2013

WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter, Inc.com

Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper and was the editor of Park Slope Patch. He has also reported on the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.




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